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Brodeur closes in on NHL shutout mark

MARTIN Brodeur is closing in on another record.

In his first appearance since breaking the National Hockey League victory record, Brodeur made 35 saves in the New Jersey Devils' 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night for his 101st shutout, just two behind Terry Sawchuk's mark.

"It's a lot of shutouts," Brodeur said. "That record is proof of commitment by an organization to play well defensively. You can't do it by yourself. With the amount of shutouts that I've got, you've got to consider that the team is doing the right things."

And Brodeur is there to vacuum up the mistakes the team makes.

"It becomes so standard that it's hard to be amazed," said Brian Gionta, who had a goal for the Devils. "You see it day in and day out, just how good he is and how hard he works. Whether it's practice or warmups, he's battling for rebounds, trying to stop it. He's always trying to not let you score."

In other games, it was: Red Wings 6, Thrashers 3; Penguins 4, Kings 1; Flyers 6, Sabres 4; Oilers 5, Blackhawks 4 (in a shootout); Blues 3, Flames 2; and Hurricanes 5, Islanders 4.

In Newark, New Jersey, Patrik Elias scored twice, giving him 30 for the season, and Johnny Oduya added a goal to help the Devils extend their team-record home winning streak to 11.

The focus was again squarely on Brodeur as the Devils rebounded from an emotional letdown on Wednesday night in a 2-4 loss in Carolina with backup Kevin Weekes in goal. That came a night after Brodeur earned his 552nd win to break Patrick Roy's record.

Brodeur was back in goal against the Wild and Jacques Lemaire, his coach when the Devils won their first Stanley Cup in 1995.

While there was a countdown to Brodeur's Roy chase, it's impossible to predict when another shutout might occur. With the way Brodeur is playing, it might not take long.

"We don't know when that's going to happen," Brodeur said. "Shutouts are part being good, part being lucky."

Brodeur is 9-1 with three shutouts since returning on February 26 after missing 50 games following biceps surgery.

Not surprisingly, the two defensive-minded teams played a scoreless first period with few scoring opportunities and the Devils outshooting the Wild 6-4. The Devils scored three times in the second

Elias got things rolling with an unassisted goal at 1:24 and the Devils broke it open on goals by Gionta and Oduya in a 1:03 span. In the third, Elias got his second tally, a powerplay goal at 8:32.

The remaining drama centered on Brodeur and the shutout bid that he preserved with stellar short-handed saves on Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Kim Johnsson.


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